Ruth 1:3 – 5 “Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.”
Oh, Eli. Look what he’s done. He chose to leave God’s country, chose to take his wife and two sickly sons into a pagan land, and now he’s left them there stranded. I’m not blaming him for dying, although bad things always, always happen when we choose to journey outside the protection of God’s borders. But this just goes to show that what we do affects not only our own lives, but the lives of those we love, as well.
Mahlon and Kilion may have been sickly, but apparently they had something going for them. They each managed to find wives among the Moabite women. (I guess they were lovers, not fighters!) But Orpah and Ruth worshiped pagan gods. Mahlon and Kilion belonged to the Almighty God. And God, who is loving and benevolent and generous and kind, is also a jealous God. He loves us with a passionate, white-hot love. Just as a husband or wife has the right to expect his/her spouse not to commit adultery, God expects the same from His children.
That is how sin works, isn’t it? We take one step, just as Elimelech did when he made the choice to leave God’s promised land. Then, the second step is easier – then the third, and so on. Then, those around us, those who love us and look up to us, think, “Well, if _________ did it, it must not be so bad.” And before you know it, God’s laws are being tossed aside left and right, and no one even pays attention to them anymore.
At first, our sin seems small, insignificant. Then it grows bigger and bigger. It snowballs, and hurts everyone in its path. And often, it is the innocent victims who take the brunt of the sting. Poor Naomi had her entire family wiped out. Perhaps they would have died anyway. But here she was, in a foreign land, where God’s people were despised. If Elimelech had never left Bethlehem, Naomi would have had the support of her clan. She would have had brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews who would have taken her in, comforted her, and made sure she was cared for.
Now, she was alone. And she had to pay for her husband’s disobedience to God, all those years ago. This story breaks my heart, for it makes me think of all those I love, all those I will leave behind when I die. I really don’t want to leave them a bunch of messes they have to clean up. My actions affect them now, and will continue to affect them after I am gone.
There is a song which says, “May all who come behind me find me faithful . . .” Elimelech made the choice not to be faithful. That choice hurt him, hurt his sons, and most of all, hurt his beloved wife, who at that time in history probably had no say in the matter. What a sad, sad story. But our story doesn’t have to be so sad. We always have the choice to be faithful, or not. Obey God, or not. And each small choice made in faith and obedience to God will build a legacy we can be proud to leave behind.
Dear Father, I want to make wise choices, both in the big and small things of life. Please help me to do that.